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John McCareins portrait

John McCareins, CAIA, CIMA

Head of International

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Six years ago, John McCareins accepted the role of head of Asset Management for Asia Pacific (APAC). Moving his family from Chicago to Hong Kong wasn’t in his career plan, but his willingness to seek out new experiences and embrace the uncomfortable set him on an entirely new trajectory.

When Values Align

Coming out of undergrad at Northwestern, John interviewed at several firms but felt that Northern Trust was the best fit because of their commitment to DE&I, as well as the interactions he had with partners. “I didn’t see any people that looked like me at most of the other firms I met with,” he shared. “As a new graduate, it was nice to be in an environment where the people you aspire to be like and their behavior demonstrate diversity and values that align with mine.”

Northern Trust made such a strong impression on John that, in 2005, he returned to the company after business school and work for another firm. His seven roles at Northern have spanned locations including Chicago, Stamford, Hong Kong and even a brief pandemic-driven stint in Singapore.

“I love working for an organization that competes successfully but is equally interested in the communities we serve and in the partners that make up this organization,” he said.

Stretching Yourself

After gaining experience in the U.S., John wanted to learn more about the business overseas. He volunteered to lead client opportunities and take on stretch assignments in the Middle East, South America and Europe, gaining exposure to other markets, trends and learning how different investors think. “I take pride in being open to trying new things,” he explained. “Being comfortable in the uncomfortable, thriving in environments of ambiguity."

Despite never visiting Asia, his curiosity led him to embrace the opportunity to run the Asset Management business in APAC.

Creating Balance

John adjusted his work schedule to his new life in Hong Kong. Most days, he catches Chicago colleagues in the early morning, and then spends time with his APAC partners and clients. He is diligent about taking a break to exercise or walk the dog. When the APAC day ends, Europe’s day begins, often leading to calls with EMEA partners. After spending the evening with his family and friends, John may finish the day with a Chicago call.

He is passionate about enhancing the partner experience and offering his teams flexibility. During the pandemic, John heard stories from partners who were suddenly able to regularly share meals with family for the first time in their careers or replace their commute with exercise or a hobby.

Humanity, Humility, Hope

Over the course of his 20-plus-year career, John has developed his philosophy around what he refers to as the three “H”s: Humanity, Humility, and Hope.

“I try to be hypersensitive to our partners—their hopes, dreams, insecurities and origin stories—and I try to be equally transparent with them to build authentic relationships,” he said. John seeks to encourage, empower and inspire his team in navigating day-to-day fires without losing sight of a partner’s long-term growth and shared business aspirations.

“Part of leadership is developing people,” he said. “I’m regularly thinking, ‘How can I pay it forward?’”

Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Current home: Hong Kong
Pets: We have a rescue dog named Fi, a turtle named Dribble, a bearded dragon named Coconut and a frog named Steve.
Favorite sports team: Chicago Bulls
Cause you’re passionate about: Bringing educational opportunities to students in low-income communities—teaching entrepreneurship and early career training to high school students.
Favorite comfort food: Lou Malnati's pizza. I can't get it in Hong Kong. On my last visit to Chicago, I think I had it three times.
Favorite podcast: Masterclass. My favorite course was on negotiations and the instructor, Chris Voss, is a former hostage negotiator who now helps executives apply those skills in a business context.
Dream job as a kid: Drummer in a rock band
New hobby since the pandemic: Boxing. I picked it up when gyms were closed. It's good exercise, good stress relief, and there’s a lot of mental agility involved. I also rekindled my piano-playing skills.